The term “helicopter parent” is widely associated with children of Generation Y, also known as Millennials. Many say that the parents of Gen Y tend to “hover over” their children and pay extremely close attention to their experiences and problems, often trying to help their children avoid life’s obstacles along the way.

While this might have been accepted during your child’s elementary school years, it must stop when it comes time for them to start their careers. Not only will your child likely be annoyed if you’re trying to make decisions for them, potential employers will not be impressed if you involve yourself in the job search or hiring process.

However, you can still help them—just in a different way. Here are a few things to do while your child searches for their first entry-level job:

Encourage independent decision-making. Throughout their school career (and possibly college), you’ve helped them make tough decisions about their housing, education, and finances. Now it’s their turn to decide what’s best for them. Don’t worry about them making mistakes—that’s how they’ll truly learn!

Don’t try to solve their problems; just listen. It might be tempting to step in during the job search process when your child is frustrated or rejected. But doing so will not help them in the least. They need to learn about the process on their own in order to successfully navigate their career, now and in the future. Instead, listen to how they feel.

Remember, it’s their career, not yours. If you’ve spent your child’s whole life doing things for them, such as calling their teachers when they’re struggling or spending hours helping them complete a school project, it can be difficult to take a backseat in their career. But it’s not your career, it’s theirs, and that’s important to keep in mind they’re on the job hunt. You might think you know what’s right for your child, but now is their time to figure that out. Don’t take it as a personal failure if they don’t land a great job right out of the gate—the economy is tough and a college degree no longer ensures college grads a job after graduation.

Provide support. Although you probably want to rush to give your student advice about their career, what they really need is a source of support. Spend time listening to their frustrations, experiences, and opportunities. Remember that their job search is likely very different than yours was, and the job market is rough for today’s recent graduates. Be patient and supportive throughout the process, however long it takes.

How else should parents help their students in their career & job searches? 


Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010) and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

(Photo: jeremy.wilburn)